Around The Blogosphere: July 21, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on July 21st, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions torushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Was Anthony Hubbard forced out?: “So it appears we may have gotten some illumination on the Hubbard story: via Mike Hlas (who has a very good column on the subject), a report from a website called MetroSportsReport.com that Hubbard was kicked off the team for violation of a strict “zero tolerance policy”, and did not willingly transfer as suggested by the official Iowa press release. ” (Black Heart Gold Pants)
  • First Half Of Boost Mobile Elite Rosters Released: “I don’t know if releasing rosters is something that can create a significant amount of buzz, but the people at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game are trying to do that today, releasing the roster in two pieces. The first half was just released and you might recognize a few important names, including Shabazz Muhammad and Anthony Bennett, who will square off in the dunk contest. The event will be held August 26-27 in Los Angeles and is where Kyle Wiltjer surprised us all with his commitment last year.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • Wayne Blackshear should be in Louisville in two weeks: “A story in this morning’s Chicago Tribune confirms that Blackshear is in summer school in Chicago satisfying a core requirement in order to qualify academically. Fear not, however, as Blackshear’s high school coach Nick Irvin says the McDonald’s All-American will be on campus shortly.” (Card Chronicle)
  • Manhattan, Albany & Brown Join Syracuse In Carrier Dome For 2011 NIT Season Tip-Off: “So let me get this straight… Syracuse, which is located in New York, is playing Manhattan, which is located in New York City, in Syracuse, NY for the right to play in a tournament in New York City? And the Orange might also have to beat Albany, another school located in New York to get there?” (Troy Nunes is An Absolute Magician)
  • Hokies NIT Pod Set: “We’ve known for a while that Virginia Tech would be participating in the Preseason NIT (otherwise known now as the Preseason Virginia Tech Invitational).  We’ve known George Mason would be in the pod (East Regional), led by their new coach and TechHoops.com favorite, Paul Hewitt.  We’ve known it would be played at the Cassell.  And now we know who the Hokies will play in the first round and who the other two teams are.” (Tech Hoops)
  • Louisville pulls out of 2012 Maui Invitational: “It appears Cardinal fans who had been planning on a November, 2012 getaway to the island of Maui are out of luck. Louisville has pulled out of the 2012 Maui Invitational Tournament and has already been replaced by Marquette. U of L was also scheduled to participate in the event in 2009, but instead worked out a deal to push their participation back three years.” (Card Chronicle)
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Morning Five: 03.10.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 10th, 2011

  1. The ending of the St. John’s-Rutgers game has created quite a bit of controversy and within an hour the Big East had already issued a statement that the officials made a mistake on the last play when Justin Brownlee stepped out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left. As Stewart Mandel points out that was just one of several missed calls that went St. John’s way. Even though though the Rutgers coaching staff appeared to be taking the high road after the game we would expect quite a bit of discussion between the school and the Big East over the next week about the officiating during the game.
  2. When the NCAA announced its punishment for UConn last month Jim Calhoun was initially quite vocal about his displeasure with the decision although he later took a step back and agreed that ultimately he was responsible for the actions of his program. Despite that admission there were a handful of media members who wondered whether Calhoun would appeal his 3-game Big East suspension. Yesterday, Calhoun finally announced that he would accept the suspension and would not be appealing. Frankly it was probably the best move for Calhoun and UConn as many have stated that it was a relatively light punishment (ignoring the potential effect on his legacy) and an appeal would only distract the team as they head into the NCAA Tournament with what should be a fairly high seed.
  3. Coming into this season most people expected the college career of Perry Jones to be relatively short. It turns out that it might be a few weeks shorter than expected as Jones was suspended prior to the team’s game against Oklahoma for taking “impermissible benefits” related to loans his mother was given while Jones was still in high school. Baylor has stated that they plan to appeal the NCAA’s ruling, but even if they get him back it will most likely be for a NIT game as they lost by 17 to the Sooners yesterday and have lost 5 of their last 6 games to close the regular season. Although Jones was a solid contributor the team’s season will likely be considered a failure as Scott Drew was unable to lead the Bears back to the NCAA Tournament after losing to eventual champion Duke last year in the Elite 8 and returning the majority of the starting line-up including LaceDarius Dunn.
  4. Mississippi State has been very protective of Renardo Sidney since his infamous brawl in the stands in Maui in December, but he finally opened up in an interview with a local newspaper where he expressed some regret for his behavior and admitted that he needed to get in better shape stating that in high school his playing weight was nearly 60 pounds lighter than where he presently is. While we have heard countless analysts talk about how bad his attitude is we have yet to hear a single one question his ability. If (and it is a big if) Sidney gets his head on straight there is no doubt that he could be a huge force for the Bulldogs and would almost certainly be a top 5 or 10 pick if he were able to put together a solid season next year and stayed out of trouble.
  5. We are nearing the end of the regular season which means one thing–award lists. Ok, it means a lot of things (most of them more important than award lists). CNNSI announced their awards yesterday and we are having a hard time arguing with any of their selections. We are sure that some people will argue that a few of the guys in the honorable mention section should be a little higher, but we’re having a hard time seeing any huge omissions.

 

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Set Your Tivo: 02.10.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 10th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

It’s another big night with post-season implications, as Connecticut and Vanderbilt look to improve their seeding while the other six teams need wins to make their cases or avoid falling farther towards the bubble. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

#10 Connecticut @ St. John’s – 7 pm on ESPN (***)

St. John’s is an interesting case when it comes to the possibility of inclusion in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve beaten a bunch of quality teams, but the record isn’t anything special, just 13-9 (5-5) coming into tonight’s game. A loss would give the Johnnies double-digit losses, not something you want to brag about before the Selection Committee. More importantly, they’d dip under .500 in conference play and would obviously need to win plenty of games down the stretch — and they’ve got a few tough ones left.

Lavin's First Year Has Been Better Than Expected, Though We're Sure He's Nowhere Near Content

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ATB: What’s Wrong With Sparty?

Posted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2011

The Lede.  Groundhog Day came and went and it was another interesting night across the college basketball landscape.  There were the obligatory upsets, the blowouts, the disappointments, and The Jimmer.  But it was a somewhat obscure result between two unranked teams tonight that caught our attention the most.

Michigan State is Getting Swatted By Everyone (AP/C. Jette)

Your Watercooler MomentAre the Spartans Kaput? After a holy crapola-inducing beatdown of Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans by twenty points this evening, we have to wonder if the wheels have completely come off in East Lansing.  Otherwise, how else can you explain going to one-win Iowa (they beat Indiana) and allowing a team that has trouble scoring the ball to put up a 41-point first half and shoot 58% from the field for the game?  Somewhere in Europe Mateen Cleaves is rolling over in his pfennigs.  Tom Izzo characterized the performance as the worst he’s ever experienced as the head coach at MSU, a “total letdown… everybody’s hitting shots against us and I don’t know why.”  We wrote earlier this year that Spartan fans shouldn’t fret too much by early losses to UConn, Duke and Syracuse — it’s been the tendency for Izzo teams to take some hits during the regular season only to overachieve come March.  But the recent three-game stretch where MSU lost to rival Michigan at home, came dangerously close to losing to Indiana, and just dropped another one tonight against Iowa, is not representative of an NCAA Tournament team (in fact, Sparty is three overtimes from having lost eight in a row right now).  With the talent that Tom Izzo has at his disposal — even considering the loss of Korie Lucious — those should have been three easy wins.  Instead, standing at 13-9 (5-5), the Spartans are running out of time to ensure they’ll be back in the Dance for the fourteenth consecutive year — two of their next three are at Wisconsin and Ohio State, and there are three other ranked teams left on the schedule.  The MSU offense always comes and goes, but Izzo can usually rely on his defense to keep his team in the game — not so lately.  In the last five games, Michigan State has allowed a minimum of 1.04 points per possession, and four of the Spartans’ worst six performances on the defensive end have come in the last six games.  When players stop guarding and picking up for each other, it’s a sure sign that there are chemistry problems on the team.   If anyone can bring a squad out of such a tailspin, it’s Tom Izzo, but even we’re starting to wonder if this reclamation project is too big for even his talents.  The way we’re viewing it — even with the nation’s #1 ranked schedule, Wisconsin on Sunday in Madison is about as close to a must-win as it gets in early February.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Syracuse Ends Losing Streak.  We have much more on Syracuse’s big win at Connecticut below in the RTC Live section, but let there be no doubt that SU played like a desperate team tonight in order to get the much-needed victory.  Maybe it was all the point-shaving rumors going around (ha), but the Orange showed a focus that they haven’t had in the last couple of weeks, especially on the defensive end, and managed to put the four-game losing streak in the rear view mirror.  The Orange zone gave up eight threes tonight, but only thirteen other field goals, a far cry from the pathetic defensive performances of the last two weeks.
  • DJ Gay’s Fadeaway.  If you’re like us, you’re secretly harboring hope that both San Diego State and BYU will get through the rest of their Mountain West schedules to set up a blockbuster showdown for the conference title in San Diego on February 26.  One of the tougher tests that SDSU was going to face was the trip to Colorado State, and had it not been for DJ Gay’s step-back jumper with 1.8 seconds that found all net, our MWC dream game  rematch hopes might have already been dashed.  These are the kinds of game-winners on off nights that occur during special seasons, and Steve Fisher’s Aztecs are well on their way to a spectacular 29-2 type of regular season.

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Morning Five: Groundhog Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 2nd, 2011

  1. Indiana’s Christian Watford broke his hand over the weekend against Michigan State and had surgery on it yesterday; he will be out indefinitely.  This is just another gut-punch to the stomachs of Indiana fans everywhere, as Watford, IU’s leading scorer, represents the third Hoosier starter to miss significant time (Maurice Creek and Verdell Jones III are the others).  This comes on the heels of what was the most promising week for Indiana basketball in quite some time — a win over Illinois and an overtime loss to Michigan State.  Say what you want about Tom Crean as a head coach (and we’ve said a lot), but it’s especially difficult to get wins in the Big Ten when you don’t have your full hand to play with.
  2. A couple of other significant players suffered injuries recently.  Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson sprained his ankle at practice on Tuesday and is considered uncertain for Thursday night’s game at Auburn.  According to this story, it was bad enough that he had a protective boot on and he left the arena after practice in crutches.  UT has won its last four games and part of the reason for their improved play has been Hopson, so if he isn’t at 100%, even a trip to Auburn could be troublesome.  Meanwhile, St. John’s announced that forward Justin Brownlee had suffered a fracture of his left thumb during Sunday’s huge Red Storm win over Duke, a game in which he had 20/9/6 assts.  He will wear a splint on the thumb, though, and is not expected to miss any time from practice nor games.
  3. Mike DeCourcy writes that Auburn’s Tony Barbee believes that the NBA will go back to the preps-to-pros route as a result of next summer’s collective bargaining agreement between the NBA Players Association and the owners.  He says that he’s been talking to “people” who seem to be in the know, but we question if those people are tied into the owners, management and David Stern — the group that will ultimately drive this decision.  We’re on record stating that both the preps-to-pros and the so-called “baseball rule” are bad for the game of college basketball, but the NBA’s self-interest will rule the day and ensure that names like John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Jared Sullinger have value and cachet behind them prior to entering the league as rookies.
  4. We thought this was an interesting article from the Cleveland State Cauldron lamenting that CSU basketball is a consistent winner in a town that traditionally has not had many of those, yet it still has significant trouble getting any kind of attention from anyone in the community at-large.  The Vikings are currently 20-3 overall and 9-2 in the Horizon League with second-place Valpo and traditional power Butler coming to town this weekend.  We agree, Cleveland… get out there and support this team.  They just might end up being one of the best mid-major stories of the year in all of college basketball again.
  5. In the inaugural year of this blog, we took SI writer Grant Wahl (who has since moved on to cover soccer) to task over his Magic Eight selections for leaving UNC off his list of teams that would win the title.   That season was 2007-08 and, if you recall, he was right.  Both Kansas and Memphis were on his list, but the Jayhawk obliteration of North Carolina in the national semifinals validated his concerns.  Consider our crow eaten.  After what sounds to be significant negotiations, Luke Winn has revitalized the Magic Eight this season, and his choices are a combination of obvious and bold, as such:  BYU, Duke, Georgetown, Kentucky, Ohio State, Texas, Tennessee and Washington.  As he acknowledges, leaving Kansas, Pittsburgh, UConn and SDSU out are rather huge gambles, but we’ll see how he does as things develop over the next month.
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RTC Live: Duke @ St. John’s

Posted by nvr1983 on January 30th, 2011

Game #121. RTC heads to Madison Square Garden (aka “The World’s Most Famous Arena”) as the defending champs invade The Big Apple.

The Red Storm head into today’s game having finished what is likely the hardest seven-game stretch that any team has faced this season and things won’t get any easier as Coach K and the Blue Devils come to town. After initially raising expectations in New York City after a 3-point will over Georgetown on January 3rd Steve Lavin and the Red Storm have fallen on hard times losing 5 of their last 6 games. If the Red Storm are to reverse their fortunes today they will need big games out of Dwight Hardy and Justin Brownlee and try to find a way to contain Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler while defending the 3-point line against a Blue Devil team that is loaded with excellent shooters, but has struggled from 3-point range since starting ACC play.
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Set Your Tivo: 01.19.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 19th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Three interesting contests headline tonight’s schedule, including NC State’s endeavor to pull a shocker of its own over now-#4 Duke. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

#25 Cincinnati @ #16 Notre Dame – 7 pm on ESPN2 (****)

Abromaitis Plays the Most MPG for the Irish But Has Been Held Under His Season Average for Three Straight Games

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Set Your Tivo: 01.07-01.09

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 7th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

The first big hoops weekend of 2011 features many important games across the land. Here are five key games followed by a host of others. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

Cleveland State @ Butler – 7 pm Friday on ESPNU (****)

With Butler’s loss at Milwaukee on Monday, folks in the Horizon League used to the Bulldogs’ dominance are excited that this may be the year someone else takes the title. Cleveland State leads the league by a game over Detroit and Wright State while holding a one and a half game lead over Butler heading into tonight’s game. Should the Vikings win on the road tonight and plow through the rest of their Horizon schedule, expect to see Cleveland State win the league. Obviously we’re a long way off from that but CSU is currently in a nice position. Butler’s problems have been on the defensive end. The Bulldogs have given up an average of 73.6 PPG in their losses while their defensive efficiency has dropped significantly from their top five ranking of a year ago.

The Bulldogs Need Mack Back On Track Tonight, And From Now On

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Checking in on… the Big East

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 5th, 2011

Rob Dauster of Ballin’ Is A Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

I am so glad that I don’t have to coach in the Big East.  As of today, UConn is 1-2 in the Big East after losing games at Pitt and at Notre Dame. Georgetown is 1-2 with losses coming at Notre Dame and at St. John’s. The Irish have beaten both the Hoyas and the Huskies, but they aren’t at the top of the league right now because sandwiched in between those two was a loss at Syracuse.  What about Providence? They are now 0-3 in the conference despite having the look and the feel of a team that is much better than an 0-3 Big East team. Why? Because they opened conference play with a trip to the Carrier Dome to take on the Orange before returning home to face suddenly-awesome St. John’s and Pitt.  All of that pales in comparison to the Johnnies*, however.

*For the record, I will note here that every of-the-week award– player, team, coach, rookie, cheerleader, mascot, and fan — that this here blogger has been foolishly delegated by the powers that be at RTC headquarters to give out to the Big East this week is going to St. John’s. I grew up on the Big East. There is nothing better than Big East basketball. And the Big East doesn’t feel right unless the Johnnies are good. Here’s to hoping it stays that way.

The next seven games on St. John’s schedule are brutal. They go to Notre Dame. Then they host Syracuse and Notre Dame. Next is a trip to Louisville before Cincinnati comes to town. To finish out January, the Johnnies head down south for a jaunt to Georgetown and then Duke (Duke!) on the 30th.  And this is coming off of trips to West Virginia and Providence before they knocked off Georgetown in the Garden.  Right now, St. John’s is 3-0 in the Big East. Justin Brownlee and DJ Kennedy make up arguably the most versatile pair of forwards in the conference. Dwight Hardy‘s nickname is Buckets, and if you’ve seen him play, you know why. Paris Horne is an excellent perimeter defender while Justin Burrell, Dele Coker, and Sean Evans are all big and athletic. And, keep in mind, point guard Malik Booth has been hampered by a hamstring injury this entire time.  This team is good. How good? Ask me January 31st.

Power Rankings (overall and conference records, and last week’s ranking in parentheses)

1. Syracuse (15-0, 2-0) (3)

Last Week: 12/28 vs. Providence 81-74, 1/1 vs. Notre Dame 70-58

Next Week: 1/8 @ Seton Hall

James Southerland is a name you are going to want to remember. Lost in Kris Joseph‘s surge of late and Rick Jackson‘s season-long DeJuan Blair impersonation, Southerland has become a very important piece for Jim Boeheim. He’s athletic, lengthy, and stands 6’8. He’s a competent defender — although he’s not great on the perimeter just yet, he blocks shots and makes steals — but more importantly he’s a sharpshooter that can spread the floor offensively. Remember the Orange’s weakness? (Hint: perimeter shooting.)

2. Pittsburgh (14-1, 2-0) (2)

Last Week: 1/4 @ Providence 83-79

Next Week: 1/8 vs. Marquette

This is why Pitt is so good: against Providence, they turned the ball over 22 times as the Friars’ press wreaked havoc. Pitt was in bad foul trouble, even being forced into a zone defense in the second half. Brad Wanamaker fouled out with a few minutes left with Pitt losing after blowing a ten-point lead. And the Panthers still pulled one out on the road, thanks in large part to Wanamaker’s sub, Travon Woodall, making a couple of huge plays late, including hitting the go-ahead three.

3. Villanova (12-1, 1-0) (4)

Last Week: 12/30 @ Temple 78-74, 1/2 vs. Rutgers 81-65

Next Week: 1/6 @ South Florida, 1/9 vs. Cincinnati

I can’t say enough about how good Corey Stokes has been this season. He’s a “role” player according to KenPom’s usage stats, but he leads the teams in scoring and in a stat I like to call “clutch, gutsy jumpers.” He led the team in scoring both games this week, including a very good second half against Temple.

4. Notre Dame (12-2, 2-1) (6)

Last Week: 12/29 vs. Georgetown 69-55, 1/1 @ Syracuse 58-70, 1/4 vs. UConn 73-70

Next Week: None

The Irish are legit, folks. Two solid wins to start the Big East season. Experienced, heady group of players. Lots of shooting, multiple scoring threats, versatile lineup. They aren’t that deep, and they will be without Carleton Scott for a while as he deals with a hamstring injury, but, like I said, this team is legit.

5. Georgetown (12-3, 1-2) (1)

Last Week: 12/29 @ Notre Dame 55-69, 1/1 vs. DePaul 86-75, 1/3 @ St. John’s 58-61

Next Week: 1/8 vs. West Virginia

Hmm. Did I overrate the Hoyas when I called them the Big East favorite? Three games in, it looks like it. I’m not ready to back off of that yet, but the way their backcourt played in losses to Notre Dame and St. John’s concerns me. They get dropped this week, but I expect a rebound.

6. Connecticut (11-1, 1-2) (5)

Last Week: 12/31 vs. South Florida 66-61 OT, 1/4 @ Notre Dame 70-73

Next Week: 1/8 @ Texas

Yes, UConn lost to Notre Dame, but there were some positive signs. The Huskies got 46 points out of Shabazz Napier, Roscoe Smith, Jeremy Lamb, and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel. Alex Oriakhi gave them nothing. Literally, zero points. Kemba Walker struggled, going 8-23 against a swarming defense while also missing some shots he normally makes. And UConn still lost by just three at the Joyce Center after blowing two chances to tie the game with under 30 seconds left.

7. Louisville (11-2, 0-0) (7)

Last Week: 12/31 @ Kentucky 63-78

Next Week: 1/5 vs. Seton Hall, 1/9 @ South Florida

The Cardinals had an embarrassing loss to Kentucky. That said, Kentucky is, in my opinion, underrated this season. More concerning for me is the fact that Rakeem Buckles is now out with a broken finger.

8. Cincinnati (14-0, 2-0) (8)

Last Week: 12/28 vs. DePaul 76-60, 12/31 vs. Seton Hall 70-53

Next Week: 1/6 vs. Xavier

Still reserving judgement (Xavier on Thursday will be my marker), but that win over Seton Hall resonated in these parts.

9. St. John’s (10-3, 3-0) (12)

Last Week: 12/29 @ West Virginia 81-71, 1/1 @ Providence 67-65, 1/3 vs. Georgetown 61-58

Next Week: 1/8 @ Notre Dame

See the introduction for my take on the Red Storm.

10. Marquette (10-4, 0-1) (9)

Last Week: 12/29 @ Vanderbilt 76-77, 1/1 vs. West Virginia 79-74

Next Week: 1/5 @ Rutgers, 1/8 @ Pitt, 1/10 vs. Notre Dame

I just don’t think this program will ever change. And I love it. Every game they play is exciting. Their guards are always talented and unafraid of taking a big shot. Their forwards are always versatile scorers. Honestly, I believe this is one of the top six teams in this conference. Now they just have to prove it.

11. West Virginia (8-4, 1-2) (10)

Last Week: 12/29 vs. St. John’s 71-81, 1/1 @ Marquette 74-79, 1/4 @ DePaul 67-65

Next Week: 1/8 @ Georgetown

I don’t know what’s going on with the Mountaineers. They are now 1-2 in the Big East after nearly blowing a 14-point lead in the last 10 minutes against DePaul. Right now, this is not a tournament-caliber team.

12. Providence (11-4, 0-3) (11)

Last Week: 12/28 @ Syracuse 74-81, 1/1 vs. St. John’s 65-67, 1/4 vs. Pitt 79-83

Next Week: 1/8 @ Rutgers

Providence, I believe, is a tournament caliber team. See the introduction for a look at what’s going on in the Big East headquarters’ city.

13. Seton Hall (6-6) (12)

Last Week: 12/31 @ Cincinnati 53-70

Next Week: 1/5 @ Louisville, 1/8 vs. Syracuse

I feel for the Pirate players. So much talent coming in, but one star gets shot after breaking his wrist and the other isn’t the same after literally dying for a few minutes over the summer.

14. Rutgers (9-4, 0-1) (13)

Last Week: 12/28 vs. UNC 55-78, 1/2 @ Villanova 65-81

Next Week: 1/5 vs. Marquette, 1/8 vs. Providence

Liked Gil Baruta. Then he threw a reverse hammer fist at Dominic Cheek and got tossed against Villanova. Now, not as much.

15. DePaul (6-8, 0-2) (16)

Last Week: 12/28 @ Cincinnati 60-76, 1/1 @ Georgetown 75-86, 1/4 vs. West Virginia 65-67

Next Week: None

DePaul getting the bump! Oliver Purnell has his kids playing hard. Cleveland Melvin is going to be a star in this league, as well as Brandon Young.

16. South Florida (6-9, 0-2) (15)

Last Week: 12/28 @ Seton Hall 55-64, 12/31 @ UConn 61-66 OT

Next Week: 1/6 vs. Villanova

I’m embarrassed to say I’m a UConn fan when I see them get taken to overtime by USF.

Looking Ahead

There will be some terrific Big East basketball to close out the week. Thursday, Cincinnati takes on city rival Xavier. Saturday, West Virginia heads to Georgetown, Marquette heads to Pitt, UConn travels to Texas, and St. John’s has a date at Notre Dame. Sunday, Cincy gets their second test of the week as they visit Villanova.

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Set Your Tivo: 01.03.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 3rd, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Two ranked teams take to the road this evening against a couple of clubs trying to crack the top half of their respective conferences. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

#8 Georgetown @ St. John’s — 7 pm on ESPN2 (****)

Can Hardy And the SJU Boys Maintain Recent Gains Tonight Against the Hoyas?

Steve Lavin makes his Big East home debut tonight at Madison Square Garden as St. John’s looks to score a big win and move to 3-0 in conference play, already off to their best start since the 1999-2000 team began 4-0 in the Big East under Mike Jarvis. The Red Storm have looked like a different team over the last four games. Since an embarrassing loss at Fordham on December 11, St. John’s has won four straight over better competition. The offense started to click in the second half against Northwestern and they haven’t looked back at all. Lavin’s offense is on fire due to the inside play of Justin Burrell and Justin Brownlee, the former shooting 76% over his last three games, as well as Dwight Hardy on the perimeter. The 6’2 senior guard has scored 41 points over the last two games and is shooting 40% from three over the last three. Even with the improved shooting, Hardy is still under 30% on the year from deep giving you an indication of how much he was struggling before this hot stretch. St. John’s gets a lot of points inside (59% of their total production) and has only attempted 17 threes over the last two contests. They shoot 53.5% inside the arc and utilize their forwards and dribble penetration effectively.

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Checking in on… the Big East

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 29th, 2010

Rob Dauster of Ballin Is A Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East conference.

A Look Back

The Big East had been questioned coming into the season.  I did it myself.  They didn’t have their usual firepower up top. Their preseason player of the year candidates — the Austin Freemans and Corey Fishers and Kris Josephs of the world — barely make a peep on NBA Draft boards. And the bottom of the league? Don’t get me started on the bottom of the league.

But is it possible that, while looking at the Big East’s faults, we happened to overlook just how deep the conference is?  Yes, apparently.  The early season tournaments aren’t just an entertaining way to kick off a normally bland start to the college basketball season. They also act as a gauge, a way to measure how each respective conference stacks up against one another.

And the Big East was, in a word, impressive, in the 2010 installment of the early season tournaments:

  • UConn beat Wichita State and upset Michigan State and Kentucky to win the Maui Invitational.
  • Syracuse beat Michigan and Georgia Tech to win the Legends Classic.
  • Notre Dame notched wins over Georgia, Cal, and Wisconsin to with the Old Spice Classic.
  • St. John’s beat Arizona State in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout.
  • Pitt won the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic by beating Maryland and Texas in NYC.
  • Georgetown won the Charleston Classic with a win over NC State in the finals.
  • Villanova lost to Tennessee in the finals of the Preseason NIT.
  • West Virginia beat Vanderbilt in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off before losing to Minnesota in the finals.

By my count, that is six tournament titles and two second places finishes. Both of the second place finishes came via loss to a top 25 team. With the exception of Louisville, who didn’t play in one of these tournaments, each of the Big East’s top eight teams finished either first or second in their respective tournament. The ESPN/USA Today poll currently has five Big East teams in the top 25, and eight in the top 29. The AP poll looks even better, as those eight teams are all in the top 27, with Notre Dame also sneaking their way into the top 25.

The top of the Big East is a far cry from where it was in 2009, when they sent five teams to the Sweet 16, three to the Elite 8, two to the Final Four, and logged three of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.  But with the depth of this conference — among the schools already listed, keep in mind Seton Hall is playing without Jeremy Hazell and with half of Herb Pope and Cincinnati just beat Dayton 68-34 — there is no reason we shouldn’t expect another season with eight or nine potential NCAA Tournament teams come March.

Player of the Week: Kemba Walker, UConn

It has to go to Walker, as much as I would like to pass the award elsewhere. Kemba absolutely took the college basketball world by storm out in Maui. Coming off of a 42-point performance against Vermont, the Huskies point guard put the team on his diminutive back and carried them to a Maui Invitational tournament title. He averaged 30.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 2.7 SPG during the event, leading his team to wins over then top ten teams Michigan State and Kentucky and into the top ten of both major polls.

Team of the Week: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Irish stormed through Disneyland, taking home the title in the Old Spice Classic held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex. Along the way, the Irish knocked off Georgia, Cal, and Wisconsin. There are a couple things that really impressed me about this team. For one, they are just as good defensively as they were last season. They held Wisconsin to 51 points two days after holding Cal to 44 points (and 5 in the first half!) The second thing that impressed me is the versatility they have in their lineup. The Irish can play big if they have too, using Tyrone Nash and/or Jack Cooley on the front line. But, as they did against Wisconsin, they can also go small, using essentially five perimeter players, with Carleton ScottScott Martin, and Tim Abromaitis on the front line. They also have a freshman point guard named Eric Atkins that proved his worth on this trip. He will allow Ben Hansbrough to play off the ball when need be. The third thing is their resiliency. The Irish were down 11 late in the second half to a good Wisconsin team before coming back and winning. Against Georgia, the Irish switched to a zone in the second half that helped then comeback from 12 down at the half.

Power Rankings: (last week’s ranking in parentheses)

1. Pitt 7-0 (1)
Last Week: 11/23 vs. Robert Morris 74-53, 11/27 vs. Penn 82-58
Next Week: 12/1 vs. Duquesne, 12/4 vs. Rider

Pitt looked like Pitt these two games. They smothered an overmatched opponent defensively, waiting for a big second half run to take control of the game. The Panthers are easily the best team in the Big East right now.

2. UConn 5-0 (9)
Last Week: 11/22 vs. Wichita State 83-79, 11/23 vs. Michigan State 70-67, 11/24 vs. Kentucky 84-67
Next Week: 11/30 vs. New Hampshire, 12/3 vs. UMBC

The only thing I want to elaborate on from above is that the Huskies role players have been pretty impressive. Shabazz Napier is a playmaking point guard that is a tough defender. Roscoe Smith and Jeremy Lamb are both impressive athletes with enough skills to be capable thus far. And Niels Giffey is the kind of all-around talent — defends, shoots the three, handles the ball — that UConn has been missing the last few seasons. The question is whether it lasts.

3. Villanova 5-1 (2)
Last Week: 11/24 vs. UCLA 82-70, 11/26 vs. Tennessee 68-78
Next Week: 12/4 vs. St. Joe’s

Villanova is desperately in need of a leader. Against Tennessee, the Wildcats just simply could not get into any kind of a rhythm offensively with their three back court stars struggling. Corey Stokes and Maalik Wayns combined for 6-20 shooting from the field and six turnovers. And Corey Fisher? He finished the game 1-10 from the floor with five turnovers and just three points. Worst still, he didn’t seem like he wanted any part of the ball down the stretch. That’s not a good sign for the kid that was supposed to fill Scottie Reynolds shoes.

4. Georgetown 6-0 (3)
Last Week: 11/27 vs. UNC-Asheville 87-72
Next Week: 11/30 vs. Missouri in Kansas City, 12/4 vs. Utah State

Last week, we talked about how the Hoyas’ big men were playing better than expected. Well, this week, we should now talk about how the back court may actually be outperforming expectations. Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Jason Clark are averaging a combined 47.2 PPG and 11.1 APG. Wright and Clark are both shooting over 45% from three. Freeman? He’s hitting an obscene 57.6% of his triples.

5. Syracuse 6-0 (4)
Last Week: 11/26 vs. Michigan 53-50, 11/27 vs. Georgia Tech 80-76
Next Week: 11/30 vs. Cornell, 12/4 vs. NC State

The most important part of two more unimpressive wins for the Orange was that Kris Joseph finally looked like the player many of us thought he was going to be all season long. Joseph had 22 of the Orange’s 53 points in the win over Michigan, then Joseph scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half — after fighting foul trouble in the first half — in the title game against Georgia Tech.

6. West Virginia 4-1 (5)
Last Week: 11/27 vs. VMI 82-66
Next Week: 12/1 vs. American, 12/4 @ Miami

The Mountaineers played just one game since their impressive second place finish in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. In an 82-66 win over VMI. Casey Mitchell, once again, was the star, hitting for 25 points in the win. Kevin Jones hasn’t quite developed like many expected, but perhaps the bigger issue is that Truck Bryant was held out of the VMI game for “disciplinary reasons.”

7. Notre Dame 7-0 (8)
Last Week: 11/25 vs. Georgia 89-83 2OT, 11/26 vs. Cal 57-44, 11/28 vs. Wisconsin 58-51
Next Week: 11/30 vs. Indiana State

See above – Team of the Week

8. Louisville 4-0 (7)
Last Week: 11/27 vs. Marshall 80-66
Next Week: 12/1 vs. FIU, 12/4 vs. South Alabama

There’s not much more to say about Louisville than we already have said. They are 4-0 and have five guys averaging between 11.0 PPG and 12.0 PPG. Most surprising? Walk-on point guard Elisha Justice, averaging 7.0 PPG and 2.0 APG.

9. Marquette 5-2 (6)
Last Week: 11/22 vs. Duke 77-82, 11/23 vs. Gonzaga 63-66, 11/27 vs. Milwaukee 75-72
Next Week: 12/4 vs. Longwood

I’ve been high on Marquette all season long. They create quite a few matchup problems when they put their best lineup on the floor. But how impressive they were in a loss to Duke was erased in a close win over Milwaukee and a loss to Gonzaga. Marquette is always going to play close games, but until they start winning more impressively, the Golden Eagles have to slide.

10. St. John’s 4-1 (11)
Last Week: 11/25 vs. Ball State 88-83 OT, 11/26 vs. Drake 82-39, 11/28 vs. Arizona State 67-58
Next Week: 12/1 vs. Wagner

St. John’s looked like the St. John’s we expected this season. Playing four time zones to the west, the Johnnies rolled through the Great Alaska Shootout, capping their tournament victory with a come-from-behind win over Arizona State. St. John’s did it in the second half with a great press and on the back of 17.7 PPG from Justin Brownlee.

11. Cincinnati 5-0 (12)
Last Week: 11/24 vs. Savannah State 54-41, 11/27 vs. Dayton 68-34
Next Week: 12/1 vs. Wright State 12/4 @ Toledo

Cincinnati was flying far off of my radar, even with Sean Kilpatrick doing his best Lance Stephenson impression. But what the Bearcats did to Dayton? That just wasn’t right. The final doesn’t do that beatdown justice. The score at one point in the second half was 56-19.

12. Seton Hall 2-3 (10)
Last Week: 11/22 vs. Clemson 58-64 OT
Next Week: 11/29 vs. St. Peter’s

There’s not much to say about Seton Hall since last week. They still are operating without Jeremy Hazell, and Herb Pope still isn’t back into shape. The Pirates will be good, but we may have to wait until the Big East season to see it.

13. South Florida 4-3 (12)
Last Week: 11/23 vs. Liberty 60-43, 11/26 vs. BYU 75-77 2OT, 11/27 vs. Texas Tech 64-61
Next Week: 12/1 vs. VCU, 12/4 @ Florida Atlantic

The Bulls looked impressive when they took a very good BYU team to double overtime. The next night, they proceeded to beat Texas Tech, and while the Red Raiders may not be a tournament team, its still a nice win for USF. Jawanza Poland and Ron Anderson look like they may end up being pretty good players one day.

14. Providence 5-1 (14)
Last Week: 11/23 vs. La Salle 73-84, 11/24 vs. Wyoming 84-77
Next Week: 11/29 vs. Central Connecticut, 12/1 vs. Northeastern, 12/4 vs. Rhode Island

The Friars are 5-1, but they haven’t beaten anyone of substance. The only borderline team they have played was La Salle, who they lost to by 11 points.

15. Rutgers 3-2 (15)
Last Week: 11/23 vs. Norfolk State 83-57, 11/26 vs. St. Joe’s 70-76
Next Week: 12/1 vs. NJIT

It looked like the Scarlet Knights had bounced back from an opening night loss to Princeton. That is until they lost to A-10 cellar dweller St. Joseph’s.

16. DePaul 1-4 (16)
Last Week: 11/25 vs. Oklahoma State 56-60, 11/26 vs. Cal St. Northridge 66-88, 11/28 vs. Stanford 74-81 OT
Next Week: 12/2 vs. Northern Illinois

The good news is that DePaul looked competitive in their losses to Stanford and Oklahoma State. The bad news? Stanford and Oklahoma State are going to be spending a lot of time at the bottom of their respective conferences. The worse news? DePaul lost by 22 to Cal St. Northridge.

A Look Ahead

  • …way ahead. In 2012-13, TCU will jump ship to the Big East, as was reported Monday afternoon. With the conference growing to 17 teams in basketball (assuming no defections in the meantime), let the scheduling and logistical nightmares commence, not to mention nightmares on the basketball court – the Horned Frogs haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 1987.
  • Things cool down for the most part, now that the early season tournaments have wrapped up. The biggest highlights on the schedule for this week are a semi-road game for Georgetown, who faces Missouri in Kansas City, a visit to Syracuse from NC State, and another ACC-Big East date, as Miami hosts West Virginia. To dig a little deeper, VCU, whose performances against Tennessee and UCLA  turned a few heads in New York City, will make a trip to South Florida Wednesday.
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After the Buzzer: Huskies, Saints And Silverswords

Posted by jstevrtc on November 25th, 2010

Your Watercooler Moment. If you actually find yourself anywhere near a watercooler on Thursday and you’re hoping to avoid discussing this ”football” thing that’s evidently popular on this holiday (yeah, we don’t get it, either), there was definitely ample material in the way of college basketball on Thanksgiving Eve to keep the conversation lively. Alaska and Hawaii always make their presence felt in the basketball world this time of year, and on Wednesday we had an unlikely champion crowned in Maui and the beginning of the festivities in the Great Alaska. And that snickering you hear — assuming it’s not still coming from Kemba Walker – might be coming from a couple of non-Division I schools that made turkeys out of a couple of bigger foes.

Today’s Quick Hits…

  • My Name Is Walker. During the ESPN broadcast, commentators Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas both rhetorically asked, “How do you guard him?” Absolutely none of Wichita State, Michigan State, or Kentucky had the answer. Give him space, he drills jumpers. Body him, and he blows by you into the paint, which means you’re in trouble. Just as noteworthy as his scoring ability is that Kemba Walker smiles just as big after making a pass that results in a bucket as he does after hitting a shot himself, as his six assists against the Wildcats prove

Walker And His Teammates Bring Back Some Sun, and Increased Hope, Back to Storrs

  • Ha Ha, Chaminade You Are. There’s only one good thing about seventh place: it’s not eighth. When you’re D-II Chaminade and you knock off a Big 12 opponent in your own tournament, though, it’s a life-altering result. Oklahoma outshot Chaminade from the field and both teams hit six treys, yet the Silverswords were able to pull this off. Head coach Matt Mahar, seen crying with his father after the game, told reporters in the post-game press conference, “For our university and our team, this is something we’ll never forget.”
  • Our Who of the Wha? That’s Our Lady of the Lake University, or OLLU. It’s a small Catholic college in San Antonio, home to around 2,600 young higher-education-seeking souls. They’re called the Saints. And now they own a victory over D-I Texas State from the Southland Conference on Wednesday. According to Mid-Majority, for reasons you should already know, when a school from the “other 25″ conferences beats a school from one of the power six conferences, it’s a Red Line Upset. When a D-II or D-III school knocks off a D-I school in a non-exhibition, it’s a Black Line Upset. When an NAIA school like OLLU does it to a D-I school…well, they don’t even have a name for that. The “It’s just Texas State” argument doesn’t even come close to holding water, here. This win by the Saints is the biggest story of the night that you won’t hear about.

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